So, Attack on Titan came to the Alamo this week, and since I was going to see it anyway, I volunteered to review the live-action film, based on an anime, based on a Manga. I’ll talk about the film itself a little later, but first some background on the story.
Long ago, humanoid giants appeared and began eating people. Not for food, but because it’s what Titan’s do. Unable to stop the sheer numbers and terror of the situation, humanity builds a series of walls dozens of feet high to protect themselves and keep the monsters out. The Titans are stopped by the big wall and wander off for easier prey. Fast forward 100 years and three kids are at the wall to witness the Titan’s return, this time in the form a Colossal Titan that stands higher than the outer wall and proceeds kick a hole in it for his brothers and sisters to enter and ravage humanity once again.
Starting as a Manga in 2009, then a series of Novels, then a second series, followed by an Anime series in 2013/14, and finally two live-action films, followed by a second Anime that’s currently of the air in Japan. Sounds like Star Wars right? Novels, comics, cartoons, live-action, etc. all centered around the same universe. But that’s where AoT is different and where the fandom has much of it’s fun/dislike… in spotting the differences.
Being a part of some other major franchise fandoms, it’s easy to watch something and instantly start comparing it to other versions of the same franchise. Classic Start Trek vs. Next Generation, Old Star Trek vs. J.J. Abrams Trek, Original trilogy vs. Prequels, even Old Who vs. New Who. The thing is, if you love any of it shouldn’t you enjoy most if not all of it?
Perhaps it’s having Film Club and/or being such a film buff, but there’s so many times, and I’m sure you can relate, that I’ve run into fans with their own pet peeves who watched something new/different in their favorite franchise looking for that thing, found it, and spent the rest of their experience remembering what didn’t work.
In the case of AoT Part 1, the differences are there.
– The main characters are teens, not little kids, when the story starts
– The setting of the story is changed from Europe to Japan
– The scientist trying to find out what makes the Titan’s tick is female instead of male
– Different Titans eat different people
– There’s a whole part of the defense forces that’s completely ignored
At least for the live-action films, the write of the original material was a part of all the changes and additions to the story. For instance one things that the Anime never fully explains is giving the fans some indication that the Titan’s don’t all start their existence as mature humanoids. We still no idea if they’re actually ‘born’ or not (since none of the Titans have genitals). Another thing was that the younger sister disappears for half the film only to come back as some uber elite Titan killer. Much different than the Anime, but sets up some additional conflict between the sister’s commander and an overprotective older brother.
Aside from that there’s many of the typical tropes of Asian cinema or Anime. The skinny girl who’s always hungry, the scientist who disregards any safety measures because new information excites him/her, the best friends who suddenly find themselves at odds of the same side, the younger sister who’s growing up, the egotist who turns out to be a coward, the crazy girl with the skewed humor who saves her friends, and an awkward sexual encounter that’s only used for some horror humor, and the main character who only wants to avoid whatever is happening becomes humanity’s last hope.
Is it a good entry to the franchise? I would say yes. If you’ve noticed I haven’t been using a single character name. Why? Because it doesn’t really matter to understand what’s going on, just the relationships between the characters.
Is it a good film by itself? Not really. To me it’s kind of average.
Are the CG effects good? For the most part. I could tell some effects were being hidden by more CG fog/dust/snow and digital blood abounds, but otherwise it’s passable.
Most importantly, am I ready and excited for Part 2? Absolutely.
Attack on Titan The Movie: Part 2 is playing at Winchester Alamo on October 20, and 22 at 9pm, and the 23rd at 11:20am. I will be at one of these screenings. Hope to see you there.